Bulletin of Volcanology

, Volume 68, Issue 5, pp 462–479 | Cite as

The landslides and tsunamis of the 30th of December 2002 in Stromboli analysed through numerical simulations

  • Stefano TintiEmail author
  • Gianluca Pagnoni
  • Filippo Zaniboni
Research Article


On the 30th of December 2002 two tsunamis were generated only 7 min apart in Stromboli, southern Tyrrhenian Sea, Italy. They represented the peak of a volcanic crisis that started 2 days before with a large emission of lava flows from a lateral vent that opened some hundreds of meters below the summit craters. Both tsunamis were produced by landslides that detached from the Sciara del Fuoco. This is a morphological scar and is the result of the last collapse of the northwestern flank of the volcanic edifice, that occurred less than 5 ka b.p. The first tsunami was due to a submarine mass movement that started very close to the coastline and that involved about 20×106 m3 of material. The second tsunami was engendered by a subaerial landslide that detached at about 500 m above sea level and that involved a volume estimated at 4–9×106 m3. The latter landslide can be seen as the retrogressive continuation of the first failure. The tsunamis were not perceived as distinct events by most people. They attacked all the coasts of Stromboli within a few minutes and arrived at the neighbouring island of Panarea, 20 km SSW of Stromboli, in less than 5 min. The tsunamis caused severe damage at Stromboli.

In this work, the two tsunamis are studied by means of numerical simulations that use two distinct models, one for the landslides and one for the water waves. The motion of the sliding bodies is computed by means of a Lagrangian approach that partitions the mass into a set of blocks: we use both one-dimensional and two-dimensional schemes. The landslide model calculates the instantaneous rate of the vertical displacement of the sea surface caused by the motion of the underwater slide. This is included in the governing equations of the tsunami, which are solved by means of a finite-element (FE) technique. The tsunami is computed on two different grids formed by triangular elements, one covering the near-field around Stromboli and the other also including the island of Panarea.

The simulations show that the main tsunamigenic potential of the slides is restricted to the first tens of seconds of their motion when they interact with the shallow-water coastal area, and that it diminishes drastically in deep water. The simulations explain how the tsunamis that are generated in the Sciara del Fuoco area, are able to attack the entire coastline of Stromboli with larger effects on the northern coast than on the southern. Strong refraction and bending of the tsunami fronts is due to the large near-shore bathymetric gradient, which is also responsible for the trapping of the waves and for the persistence of the oscillations. Further, the first tsunami produces large waves and runup heights comparable with the observations. The simulated second tsunami is only slightly smaller, though it was induced by a mass that is approximately one third of the first. The arrival of the first tsunami is negative, in accordance with most eyewitness reports. Conversely, the leading wave of the second tsunami is positive.


December 2002 Stromboli eruption Landslide-induced tsunami Landslide model Stromboli Tsunami runup Tsunami simulation 



The authors are very grateful to all colleagues who made their instrumental data available, namely to the researchers of INGV-CT, INGV-OV, INGV-CNT, of ISMAR-CNR, and to the scientific teams from the Universities of Rome “La Sapienza”, from the University of Bologna, from the INGV-CT and from the ISMAR-CNR, who performed bathymetric and aerial surveys. This work has been funded through an INGV-GNV grant in the framework of an agreement between INGV and Department of the Italian Civil Protection.


  1. Baldi P, Belloli F, Fabris M, Marsella M, Ponticelli R, Signorotto V (2003) La fotogrammetria digitale differenziale del versante della Sciara del Fuoco (isola di Stromboli) dopo l'evento del 30 Dicembre 2002 (in Italian). 7a Conferenza Nazionale ASITA “L'informazione territoriale e la dimensione del tempo”, Verona 28–31 Ottobre 2003Google Scholar
  2. Bonaccorso A, Calvari S, Garfì G, Lodato L, Patané D (2003) Dynamics of the December 2002 flank failure and tsunami at Stromboli volcano inferred by volcanological and geophysical observations. Geophys Res Lett 30(18):1941 DOI10.1029/2003GL017702CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  3. Bortolucci E (2001) Modelli dinamici di frane e dei maremoti indotti. PhD Thesis, Dottorato di Ricerca in Fisica, XIV Ciclo, a.a. 2000–2001, Università di Bologna, Bologna, pp 1–126Google Scholar
  4. Chen H, Lee CF (2003) A dynamic model for rainfall-induced landslides on natural slopes. Geomorph 51:269–288CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  5. Chiocci FL, Bosman A, Romagnoli C, Tommasi P, De Alteris G (2003) The December 2002 Sciara del Fuoco (Stromboli Island) submarine landslide: a first characterisation. EGS-AGU-EUG Joint Assembly, Nice, France, April 2003, Geophysical Research Abstracts, vol.5, CDROM VersionGoogle Scholar
  6. Choi BH, Pelinovsky E, Hong SJ, Woo SB (2003) Computation of tsunamis in the East (Japan) Sea using dynamically interfaced nested model. Pure Appl Geophys 160:1383–1414CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  7. Dattilo G, Spezzano G (2003) Simulation of a cellular landslide model with CAMELOT on high performance computers. Parallel Comput 29:1403–1418CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gusiakov VK (2001) “Red”, “Green” and “Blue” tsunamigenic earthquakes and their relation with conditions of oceanic sedimentation in the Pacific. In: Hebenstreit GT (ed) Tsunami research at the end of a critical decade, Advances in natural and technological research, vol. 18. Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp 17–32Google Scholar
  9. Harbitz CB (1992) Model simulations of tsunamis generated by the Storegga slides. Mar Geol 105:1–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hebert H, Piatanesi A, Heinrich P, Schindele F, Okal EA (2002) Numerical modeling of the September 13, 1999 landslide and tsunami on Fatu Hiva Island (French Polynesia). Geophys Res Lett 29(10):1484 DOI10.1029/2001GL013774ADSGoogle Scholar
  11. Jiang L, LeBlond PH (1992) The coupling of a submarine slide and the surface waves it generates. J Geophys Res 97:12731–12744ADSGoogle Scholar
  12. Jiang L, LeBlond PH (1994) Three-dimensional modeling of tsunami generation due to a submarine mudslide. J Phys Oceanogr 24:559–572CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  13. La Rocca M Galluzzo D, Saccorotti G, Tinti S, Cimini G, Del Pezzo E (2004) Seismic signals associated with landslides and with a tsunami at Stromboli volcano, Italy. Bull Seis Soc Am 94:1850–1867CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Liu PL-F, Lynett P, Synolakis CE (2003) Analytical solutions for forced long waves on a sloping beach. J Fluid Mech 478:101–109zbMATHADSMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  15. Louge MY, Keast SC (2001) On dense granular flows down flat frictional inclines. Phys Fluids 13:1213–1233ADSGoogle Scholar
  16. Kajiura K (1963) The leading wave of a tsunami. Bull Earthquake Res Int 41:535–571Google Scholar
  17. Kidd RB, Lucchi RG, Gee M, Woodside JM (1998) Sedimentary processes in the Stromboli canyon and Marsili Basin, SE Tyrrhenian sea: results from side-scan sonar surveys. Geo Mar Lett 18:146–154CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  18. Mader CL (1988) Numerical modeling of water waves. Univeristy of California Press, Berkeley, pp 1–206Google Scholar
  19. Maramai A, Graziani L, Tinti S (2005) Tsunami in the Aeolian islands (southern Italy): a review. Mar Geol 215:11–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Murty TS (2003) Tsunami wave height dependence on landslide volume. Pure Appl Geophys 160:2147–2153CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  21. Pino NA, Ripepe M, Cimini GB (2004) The Stromboli volcano landslides of December 2002: a seismological description. Geophys Res Lett 31:L02605 DOI10.1029/2003GL0118385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Pitman EB, Nichita CC, Patra AK, Bauer AC, Bursik M, Webb A (2003) A model of a granular flow over an erodable surface. Discrete Cont Dynam Sys Ser B, 3:589–599CrossRefzbMATHMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  23. Rabinovich AB, Thomson RE, Bornhold BD, Fine IV, Kulikov EA (2003) Numerical modelling of tsunamis generated by hypothetical landslides in the Strait of Georgia, British Columbia. Pure Appl Geophys 160:1273–1313CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  24. Satake K (1995) Linear and nonlinear computations of the 1992 Nicaragua earthquake tsunami. Pure Appl Geophys 144:455–470CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  25. Scherreiks R (2000) A note on turbidites and debrites in the vicinity of the Aeolian Islands, SE Tyrrhenian Sea. Geo Mar Lett 20:58–61CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  26. Tinti S, Vannini C (1995) Tsunami trapping near circular islands. Pure Appl Geophys 144:595–619CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  27. Tinti S, Bortolucci E, Vannini C (1997) A block-based theoretical model suited to gravitational sliding. Nat Hazards 16:1–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Tinti S, Bortolucci E, Armigliato A (1999) Numerical simulation of the landslide-induced tsunami of 1988 in Vulcano island, Italy. Bull Volcanol 61:121–137CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  29. Tinti S, Bortolucci E (2000a) Analytical investigation on tsunamis generated by submarine slides. Annal Geofis 43:519–536Google Scholar
  30. Tinti S, Bortolucci E (2000b) Energy of water waves induced by submarine landslides. Pure Appl Geophys 157:281–318CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  31. Tinti S, Bortolucci E, Romagnoli C (2000) Computer simulations of tsunamis due to flank collapse at Stromboli, Italy. J Volcanol Geoth Res 96:103–128CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  32. Tinti S, Bortolucci E, Chiavettieri C (2001) Tsunami excitation by submarine slides in shallow-water approximation. Pure Appl Geophys 158:759–797CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  33. Tinti S, Pagnoni G, Zaniboni F, Bortolucci E (2003) Tsunami generation in Stromboli and impact on the south-east Tyrrhenian coasts. Nat Hazards Earth Sys Sci 3:299–309ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Tinti S, Maramai A, Graziani L (2004) The new catalogue of Italian tsunamis. Nat Haz 33:439–465CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Tinti S, Manucci A, Pagnoni G, Armigliato A, Zaniboni F (2005a) The 30th December 2002 tsunami in Stromboli: sequence of the events reconstructed from the eyewitness accounts. Nat Hazards Earth Sys Sci (5: 763–775)Google Scholar
  36. Tinti S, Maramai A, Armigliato A, Graziani L, Manucci A, Pagnoni G, Zaniboni F (2005b) Quantitative observations of the physical effects of the Stromboli tsunamis occurred on December 30, 2002. Bull Volcanol (this issue) (in press)Google Scholar
  37. Trifunac MD, Hayir A, Todorovska MI (2002) A note on the effects of nonuniform spreading velocity of submarine slumps and slides on the near-field tsunami amplitudes. Soil Dyn Earthquake Eng 22:167–180Google Scholar
  38. Ward SN (2001) Landslide tsunami. J Geophys Res 106 (B6):11:201–216 .CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  39. Ward SN, Day S (2002) Suboceanic landslides. In: 2002 yearbook of science and technology. McGraw-Hill, New York, pp 349–352Google Scholar
  40. Ward SN, Day S (2003) Ritter island volcano: lateral collapse and the tsunami of 1888, Geophys J Int 154:891–902CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  41. Watts P (2000) Tsunami features of a solid block underwater landslides. J Waterways Port Coast Ocean Eng ASCE 126:144–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Zaniboni F (2004) Modelli numerici di evoluzione di frane con applicazione a casi di frane tsunamigeniche subaeree e sottomarine. PhD Thesis, Dottorato di Ricerca in Modellistica Fisica per la Protezione dell'Ambiente, XVI Ciclo, a.a. 2003–2004, Università di Bologna, Bologna, pp 1–112Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefano Tinti
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gianluca Pagnoni
    • 1
  • Filippo Zaniboni
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento di FisicaSettore di Geofisica, Università di BolognaBolognaItaly

Personalised recommendations